CHICAGO----PRESS RELEASE--Cresco Labs, a vertically integrated multistate operator and wholesaler of branded cannabis products, announced today its “Summer of Social Justice” nationwide initiative raised over $250,000 for social justice-focused community organizations and supported the expungement process for over 1,000 individuals with cannabis-related criminal records.
In June, a trailer was released for “The Sentence of Michael Thompson,” a documentary short film part of Cresco Labs’ “Summer of Social Justice” initiative. The film will be released in 2022.
The “Summer of Social Justice” initiative that launched on June 19th—the 50th anniversary of the War on Drugs—was supported by Cresco Labs, its Sunnyside retail brand and its flagship cannabis brand, Cresco. The initiative encompassed the support of community expungement events and Know Your Rights workshops, a documentary short film on the War on Drugs’ impact on the sentencing of Michael Thompson and financial contributions from the company and its third-party vendors. The initiative also helped amplify the ongoing restorative justice, community business incubator and education and workforce development programming facilitated by Cresco Labs’ SEED (Social Equity & Educational Development) initiative.
“Through our ‘Summer of Social Justice’ initiative, we affirm our commitment to social equity as a company core value,” said Charlie Bachtell, CEO of Cresco Labs. “As the United States moves to decriminalize cannabis and the industry continues to grow, it is critical that businesses use their platforms and resources to help restore communities and create opportunities for the BIPOC people and their families impacted by the War on Drugs. We appreciate the passion of our partners, customers and employees who lent their voices, time, expertise and money to efforts that are building and uplifting the communities we operate in. Cresco Labs is committed to continuing initiatives like the ‘Summer of Social Justice’ that will help the cannabis industry to continue to develop into a responsible and respectable one.”
Chima Enyia, Cresco Labs’ Executive Vice President of SEED, added, “It was a privilege to lead a nationwide expungement initiative that supported the restoration of rights and agency for over one thousand people and collaborate with every business unit across the organization to deploy meaningful programming that raised broad awareness of social equity and engaged our customers and partners to act. There are still over 40,000 people imprisoned with cannabis charges across the country, and for these people, their families and their communities the War on Drugs continues. As our inaugural ‘Summer of Social Justice’ initiative ends, we’ll continue demonstrating our commitment and responsibility to historically marginalized people, businesses and communities, as well as encouraging our peers and customers to continue supporting social justice-focused community organizations.”
'Summer of Social Justice' Initiative Highlights
San Bernardino County's "Operation Hammer Strike" struck again, with law enforcement seizing over 60,000 illicit cannabis plants in weeks seven and eight of the investigation.
In week seven from Oct. 11-17, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department (SBSD) Marijuana Enforcement Team (MET) and other deputies served 23 search warrants for various locations across nine cities in San Bernardino County, after receiving "numerous complaints" about illegal outdoor and indoor cannabis cultivations within these areas, according to a press release from SBSD headquarters.
Sheriff's personnel arrested 15 suspects and eradicated 159 greenhouses, one THC extraction lab and three electrical bypasses, the release states. Investigators also seized "20,031 marijuana plants, 3,596 pounds of processed marijuana, three guns, 8 grams of concentrated marijuana and 8.9 grams of methamphetamine."
Twenty-three search warrants were issued in week eight of the operation, which took place Oct. 18-24, according to a press release from SBSD headquarters.
Law enforcement personnel arrested 38 suspects and liquidated 160 greenhouses and six indoor grow facilities throughout the locations.
According to the release, investigators also found over 40,000 illicit cannabis plants, more than 5,000 pounds of processed cannabis, nearly $120,000 in cash and seven guns.
The multiyear investigation, designed to discover unlawful cannabis cultivations in San Bernardino County, Calif., has had tremendous success over the last two months.
During the last eight weeks, officials have served 183 search warrants and have made 238 arrests. Deputies have also seized the following items: "186,916 plants, 38,911 pounds of already processed marijuana, 8 grams of concentrated cannabis, 8 grams of methamphetamine, 57 guns, $563,449 in illicit narcotic sales proceeds, and eradicated and taken down 1,022 greenhouses, 5 locations with illegal electrical bypasses, and 2 THC extraction labs," the release states.
Read more Cannabis Business Times Operation Hammer Strike coverage here:
Week two and three
Week four, five and six
The fate of 23 pre-approved companies seeking five medical cannabis dispensary licenses in Rhode Island will be in the hands of a blindfolded former FBI agent on Oct. 29.
Russell Griffiths, an economic and policy analyst with the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation, will have his eyes covered when he picks five numbered balls from a transparent tumbler borrowed from Twin River Casino at 10 a.m. Friday, according to the department’s Office of Cannabis Regulation (OCR). A livestream of the lottery will be available via Zoom.
The licensing lottery was originally scheduled for early August but was delayed after one of four rejected applicants brought forth an administrative appeal. Overall, the state received 45 applications from 28 companies in December. Four companies did not qualify for the lottery.
Instead of further delay, OCR is moving forward with 23 pre-approved companies that have submitted 37 applications for the right to open a dispensary in five zones across the state. A lottery to select a dispensary for a sixth zone in the Newport area will not be held because of the administrative appeal, The Associated Press reported.
The luck of the draw for the 23 companies participating in this week’s lottery ranges from two to 11 applications in the five zones. Zone 3’s license, for instance, will be awarded to either Green Wave CC Inc. or Rhode Island Compassion Center Inc., while 11 companies are in the running for Zone 4’s license. One ball will be randomly picked from each zone.
Rhode Island currently has three licensed medical cannabis dispensaries, including the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center in Providence, the Greenleaf Compassion Center in Portsmouth and the Summit Medical Compassion Center in Warwick.
The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDL) recently issued guidance prohibiting New York employers from drug screening most workers for cannabis.
The guidance states that the use of cannabis is legal under the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), which was signed into law by former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in March.
Under the NYSDL guidance, "employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees based on the employee's use of cannabis outside of the workplace, outside of work hours, and without the use of the employer's equipment or property.” However, employers can still ban the use of cannabis during "work hours" or the possession of the substance at work.
Marissa Mastroianni, an attorney from the Cannabis Law Group at Cole Schotz, told Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary that the NYSDL’s guidance is "precedent-setting."
"This is really the first state to ban altogether testing for cannabis use unless in very limited circumstances," Mastroianni said. "This is definitely big news for any employer that has employees in New York state because you don't just have to be a New York employer to be covered by this."
The new law applies to anyone employed in the state of New York. Whether someone is an out-of-state employer that has an office in New York, or if they have remote workers in the state, they must comply with the new guidance, she said.
However, the law does not apply to a select group of people, which are listed in the guidance as follows:
"An employer is exempted from this prohibition of testing for cannabis use if it would require them to violate an affirmative federal law that says employees in this category need to be tested for cannabis use," Mastroianni said. "So, for example, that's people with a commercial driver's license. They are governed by the Department of Transportation regulations, which explicitly [requires] testing for cannabis use. So, the employers are explicitly exempted from all this."
However, just because the federal law requires that a specific group of employees be tested for cannabis, employers are not allowed just to go ahead and test the employees under the guidance.
"There has to be an affirmative duty on the employer's end to test under federal law for them to be included in the exemption," she added.
Aside from this, employers are also permitted to drug screen their workers for cannabis under these specific reasons: The employer would lose a federal contract or federal funding; The employee shows symptoms of cannabis impairment while working that decreases or lessens their performance to complete duties or tasks or interferes with the employer's obligation to provide a safe and healthy workplace as required by state and federal workplace safety laws.
"So, just smelling as though you may have just used cannabis is not enough [for employers to conduct a drug screening] because the smell alone doesn't indicate that you can't do your job, you can't perform your duties, or that you are impinging upon a safe and healthy workplace," Mastroianni said. "So, what I would suggest to employers, is that anyone who is tasked with the workplace safety policy and enforcement of that policy definitely needs to get trained on how to detect what real-time cannabis intoxication looks like, other than the stereotypical smell and red eyes."
Mastroianni said this guidance will be difficult for employers genuinely concerned about cannabis usage amongst their employees and suggests they immediately stop testing for cannabis to become familiar with the guidance unless they are within one of the exceptions.
"Even before this was issued, a lot of New York decided to stop testing for cannabis altogether when cannabis was legalized recreationally. So, some employers quite frankly don't care anymore because it is a legal substance now in New York," she said. "But the employers that are not as progressive in that sense definitely need to be aware of this."
Mastroianni said it's uncertain whether other states will follow suit but said it's likely as New York is typically a trendsetter for employment laws and regulations.
"There's going to be a wait-and-see approach to see how this all works out in New York," she said. "New York is a trendsetter, in a lot of different respects, that's for sure. So, I guess it remains to be seen whether it's going to be trend-setting on this front as well."
You never know what’s waiting around the corner for your in the cannabis business. Just a few weeks ago, at Cannabis Conference 2021, Dr. Sue Sisley provided a riveting keynote speech about her success in suing the DEA and the DOJ—eliminating the 52-year-old government-enforced research monopoly and eventually acquiring a Schedule I research license to cultivate cannabis flower for FDA-approved clinical trials. She was off to the races.
“Then I had this revelation, I said, ‘Oh my goodness, I'm selling weed to the DEA!’” she said at the show. “This is so historic!”
Then, earlier this week, Bank of America closed the Scottsdale Research Institute’s accounts—essentially shutting down her work.
Now, it remains to be seen how this fallout transforms Sisley’s goals. We’ll be following along. But it just goes to show that banking challenges abound, and potentially upending disasters lurk around this industry.
Let us know: What’s the biggest challenge your team is facing right now?
We’ve rounded up some of the key cannabis headlines from the week right here.
And elsewhere on the web, here are the stories we’ve been reading this week:
科尔·肖茨（Cole Schotz）大麻法律小组的律师玛丽莎·马斯特罗安尼（Marissa Mastroianni）告诉《大麻商业时报》和《大麻药房》，NYSDL的指导是“开创先例的”。